Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, June 2, 2017

Frankie Knuckles: Godfather of House Music

Frankie Knuckles has deservedly earned the nickname the Godfather of House Music.  If you are a lover of house music, then you probably know Frankie Knuckles. If you have ever lost your mind on the dance floor and used the rhythm as an escape from your daily troubles, you probably know Frankie Knuckles.  If house music is a spiritually transcending experience for you; one that takes you to another place, another time, and another world, then you probably know Frankie Knuckles.

Some may not recognize him by name.  Just trust me when I say, if you love house music, then this is the man you need to thank for putting this genre on the map and helping to make it the global phenomenon that it has become.

Born January 18, 1955 in the Bronx, Francis Nichols loved disco and would frequent clubs in the New York area.  He would become a DJ in two important clubs in NY, namely The Continental Baths and The Gallery.  In 1970, Frankie would move from NY to Chicago and would become the primary DJ for a newly opening club called The Warehouse.  

The Warehouse was primarily a black gay club. However, Frankie's music became so popular that everyone (black, white, gay and straight) began to frequent the establishment. The music Knuckles played had such a unique sound that people needed to give it a name because it was so different from what was being played else where.  The name house music (shortened from the Warehouse club name), would become the label attached to this new sound.

I was first introduced to house music in Loretta's in Atlanta. Yes, it was a spiritual experience for me. I didn't know the name for what I was listening to, I just knew I liked it.  I would soon learn that I had just had my first experience with house music. She was a sound I loved and wanted more of. Once you meet her, you don't want to let her go.

Frankie would be the DJ at The Warehouse until 1982, when he opened his own club called The Power Plant.  The Power Plant would be open until 1987 at which point Frankie would move to the United Kingdom for a short period to spin at the popular club Delirium.  

We cannot simply label him just as a DJ.  Frankie Knuckles was a very in demand producer and would record for himself and produce albums for others.  He has reworked tracks for Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Toni Braxton.  When the Pet Shop Boys released their third album Introspective, he would produce their track "I Want a Dog."

Frankie lived his life as an openly gay man.  In 1997, he won a Grammy for  Remixer of the Year: Non Classical. August 25, 2004, the city of Chicago would celebrate Frankie Knuckles Day and then senator Barack Obama would rename the part of the street where The Warehouse once stood as Frankie Knuckles Way. In 2005, he would be inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996,

Frankie Knuckles will always be a legend to me and to most who love this genre he helped create. If you're a fan of house, I'm sure you'll enjoy the music below.  If you're unfamiliar with his sound, please take a moment to expose yourself to this great man and this music that uplifts so many of us.

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